What separates experts from amateurs

 In Delivery, Environment, Job Interview, News, Q&A, The Winning Voice, What not to do

Consider this . . .
What separate experts from amateurs? What does an expert bring to an interaction, or to a meeting or to a Q&A session – that amateurs don’t bring?

Let me suggest one key reason that separates an expert from an amateur is – that an expert brings well developed mental representation to the interaction.

Mental representation refers to the ability to easily and quickly:

  • Deal with information.
  • Understand and interpret the information.
  • Hold the information in memory.
  • Organise and analyse the information.
  • Make decisions with information.

Experts – compared to amateurs – can envision more possible outcomes for a respective scenario. They can sift through the array of those outcomes, and come up with the most promising action to take, to achieve the outcome they want.

This ability of mental representation and envisioning gives experts a tremendous advantage in pressure situations.

Here’s how this information relates to you.

If you are an expert, executive communicator, say, in a boardroom, you’ll be able to quickly sift through a vast storehouse of embedded information and processes. Repetitive drilling or ‘overlearning’ through mock and real life scenarios, pressured and unpressured has allowed you to develop the storehouse.

Here’s an example from another domain. Soccer (Football).

Expert soccer players, too, can quickly sift through a vast storehouse of embedded information and processes. For example, here are just some of the options an expert player can choose from when in possession of the football on a soccer pitch.

They can:

  • pause for few seconds.
  • dribble with the ball forward, backward, sideways.
  • circle in place.
  • pass to a fellow player nearby.
  • kick the ball 20 metres down the field.
  • pass the ball to someone, move forward and get the ball back.
  • kick the ball to their goalkeeper.


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Implementation suggestion:

To further develop your mental representation skill let me suggest you do this:

  1. Prior to an upcoming meeting you’re attending, write down your predictions about how the meeting will unfold. Consider these questions; Which person will speak the most? Which person will speak the least? Will there be disagreement? What matter will cause the disagreement? Will the meeting run over time? etc.
  2. During the meeting be very present to the interactions that occur.
  3. After the meeting, score your predictions.


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